We live in the digital age where information travels around the world faster than it took to type the words “digital age.” And in the name of efficiency, the virtual world continues to become more commonplace. Whether it’s pictures you once kept stored in photo albums or music that you had to drive to a store to purchase (crazy, right?!), there was physical connection to your materials. Those days are all but a distant memory because now everything is reduced to a bunch of 0’s and 1’s which is all fine and dandy as long as all goes to plan. But hey, what happens if your hard drive crash? That’s right, you thought ahead, “the cloud” (for those not so techie, it’s a place where your precious files and information is stored and backed up off-site somewhere) is there to save you. Phew, disaster averted because all of the smart people have it all figured out. Yet all of these solutions have one common denominator regardless of any situation, PEOPLE. And with people always comes a wildcard. Money Monster certainly does bring the wild.
Money Monster preys on one of our biggest fears by bringing this financial ”what if” nightmare scenario front and center for many of us to obsess over. And by basically taking a somewhat similar approach as The Wolf of Wall Street (2014), entertaining viewers along the way. Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a financial television guru. He has the looks, he as the personality to charm, but more importantly he has the right person in his ear to push him in the right direction. This person is his longtime trusted producer, Patty (Julia Roberts). She’s the maturity to Lee’s adolescence and they both need each other to balance things out. On this particular day the show takes a very unexpected turn when an uninvited guest appears on the set during the live show. Kyle (Jack O’Connell) has something to get off of his chest and the world’s going to listen. When almost a billion dollars goes missing, someone’s bound to ask the tough questions.
Jodie Foster helms the crime drama thriller. Aside from a couple of episodes of Orange is the New Black and one episode of House of Cards, this is her first time behind the camera since directing Mel Gibson in 2011’s The Beaver. One of the admirable traits of Foster is that she is cognizant of the of a movie and can get her point across in an appropriate time. For example, The Beaver was 91 minutes long with Money Monster not being much longer at 98 minutes. In stark contrast, look at Clint Eastwood’s work. In the last thirty years he has directed an impressive 23 movies. Only THREE were under two hours. Sometimes less is more. Foster’s efficiency is admirable since there are very few wasted moments on the screen. So be warned, bathroom or concession trip openings are few and far between.
George Clooney once again embraces his silly side with his over the top, larger than life persona of the Mr. Know-It-All Lee Gates. You’ll see him dancing, punching and rapping his way through sky high television ratings. When things get serious though, he totally switches gears to a vulnerable individual that might even deserve some sympathy. Julia Roberts is great as usual so there’s not much to really add there. Jack O’Connell gives a great performance as the man who has been financially ruined. This is a great follow-up from his last role playing the lead in Unbroken (2014) which, with this kind of mini-streak, should gain him even more notoriety. Rounding out some of the more known faces are Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Revolution, Once Upon A Time) and Dominic West (300 (2006)).
Due to the subject matter along with the casting, the target audience is likely a more mature one. It would probably be enjoyable to a decent amount of people out of that demographic if they gave it a whirl. The overall premise of what’s going on and why might be a little dry and played out but due to the constant intensity viewers should become hooked. And since this scenario could occur on any given day there’s an added layer of realism that one could find intoxicating. Money Monster is not without its shortcomings but the overall production value is definitely worth heading out to see. The chemistry is there as is an interesting and engaging storyline. It’s a great alternative this weekend for those that don’t necessarily want to be showered with flashy CGI effects for two and a half hours.